Every month, there’s at least one new eatery to explore. This month, there are several—one dark, one light and one that’s going to the dogs.
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Every month, there’s at least one new eatery to explore. This month, there are several—one dark, one light and one that’s going to the dogs.
Chocolate Lab is a concept in a league of its own. Simply put, it’s a chocolate addict’s dream.
The atmosphere at Chocolate Lab on East Colfax Avenue is sleek but it’s the aroma of chocolate-infused appetizers and entrees that really captivates.
For seven years, Chocolate Lab has manufactured truffles but now owners expanded to offer a full menu in their first brick-and-mortar location. The eatery is located at 2504 E. Colfax Ave. in a space recently known for New World Cheese.
Owner Phil Simonson has given the space a nice facelift and a more contemporary feel. There are laboratory accents like a huge beaker painted on the back wall. The new space gives diners the opportunity to sit and watch meal prep at a chef’s bar or select a private table.
“We expect our space to become a new neighborhood hangout for everyone. In addition to the food and current desserts/chocolates, we will be including wine tastings, beer pairings and other specialty cocktails that blend well with all of our dishes,” he said.
The new space allows Simonson to expand his unique approach to truffles. Try the Drunken Onion, a truffle with wine-soaked goat cheese and caramelized Vidalia onions or another that pairs absinthe, star anise and fennel into a memorable combination. Some, like his pineapple habanero truffle, bring some heat. In all, he creates over 40 types of truffles to eat in or take home but the chocolate on the menu doesn’t stop there.
Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and beef stew—all will come with a chocolate accent. There’s bourbon chocolate barbecue sauce and chocolate balsamic dressing. The charred cauliflower is dished with a dark chocolate picaca sauce, a Catalan style of pesto.
“Everything but the mac ‘n’ cheese and the grilled cheese sandwiches will be infused with chocolate,” Simonson added.
Lunch and dinner service is available. Main dishes include a pulled pork sandwich, cocoa-espresso rubbed beef tenderloin and honey-chili glazed Brussels sprouts with cocoa nibs and mizithra cheese. Drool over the bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with milk chocolate and Gruyere cheese, or the shrimp and risotto with white chocolate and strawberries.
“I want to create a fun and intimate atmosphere for people to gather and indulge in something they can’t find anywhere else in Denver.”
Simonson fell into the world of chocolate after his spouse made him truffles one Valentine’s Day. He prides himself in working with premium ingredients, using only fair trade chocolate and as many local ingredients as possible.
The restaurant’s number is 720-536-5037. Hours are Monday-Thursday, 11:00a.m.-9:00p.m., Friday-Saturday, 11:00a.m.-12:00a.m., Sunday, 11:00a.m.-7:00p.m.
WHITE PIE PIZZERIA
“Asymmetrical and rustic, crispy and charred.” While that sounds like the description of a cake I recently made, it’s actually how White Pie Pizzeria’s owners describe their beloved New Haven-style pizza.
While New Haven pies are often cooked over coals, there’s no doubt what fuels this new venture from the brothers behind Uptown’s Dos Santos Taqueria de Mexico around the corner.
The Wallenta brothers' White Pie Pizzeria at 1702 Humboldt St. serves New Haven-style pizza and a selection of pastas.
Walls of wood serve as area dividers, décor accents and lend their fragrance to the open space. A wood oven anchors the back of the shop. Select a seat at the circular counter to watch the chefs work, one of the marble-topped community tables or your own private spot.
Brothers Kris and Jason Wallenta are on a roll. Dos Santos is often packed so they must have needed a new project. Kris is the chef here, too; Jason handles the rest. He built the eatery’s wine bottle chandelier.
The restaurant is named for a favorite treat from their youth. As youngsters, the brothers called pizza without tomato sauce ‘white’ and the name lives on.
“It’s an homage to our history,” Kris Wallenta explained.
As we debated the differences between my love—NY thin crust pizza—and his New Haven approach, I learned that the two varieties are more different than expected. They don’t even use the same type of flour.
White Pie is a family affair. Wallenta’s wife makes the desserts. Dad works behind the counter. Even brother Jason’s fiancée works here.
“Whatever we do, we put a lot of passion into it,” he promised.
Newcomers should try the puffy garlic bread and the white pie first but a handful of pasta dishes are also available. Gnocchi in white wine brodo and lasagna al forno were just two of the pasta plates last month. Gluten-free options are offered for both pizza and pasta.
A wide range of wines is offered by the bottle or glass. House cocktails include an Aperol Spritz and a frozen Negroni at reasonable rates. The address is 1702 Humboldt St. and hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 5:00p.m.-10:00p.m., Sunday, 4:00p.m.-9:00p.m. The number is 303-862-5323.
THE CHEWERY PET BAKERY & PET BAR
Fine vittles for the four-legged customer are baking at The Chewery Pet Bakery & Pet Bar in the METLO building, 1111 Broadway.
Located on the ground level, Chewery is a new offering from Apollo Peak, best known for its pet wines. Yes, wines. If you haven’t heard of their Pinot Meow, MeowMosa or CharDogNay, you’ve missed an episode of Shark Tank and the latest trend in pet love.
A beagle called Max checks out the offerings at The Chewery Pet Bakery & Bar at 1100 Broadway.
Dog wine’s base is chamomile tea to promote relaxation. Cats get catnip tea colored with beets. Dog treats are made from recycled beer grains (wheat and barley) and peanut butter ground onsite. Some of the dog wines are available on tap and, yes, there’s a bottomless option.
Apollo Peak started brewing their teas on Broadway in January. The demand quickly exceeded the space so manufacturing is now done in Golden.
This is a place for pets and owners to hang. Owners hope to add human beverages soon. And don’t forget the tasting parties! Check out the schedule on Apollo Peak’s Dog Bar Facebook page. They should be a howl.
Hours are Wednesday-Sunday, 10:00a.m.-6:00p.m.
3 HUNDRED DAY DISTILLING/WHISKEY BAR
Since the 1870s, Colorado’s unofficial slogan has been ‘three hundred days of sunshine.’ Out-of-staters are skeptical but it rings true.
A local entrepreneur grabbed it to launch 3 Hundred Days of Shine, a Monument, Colorado business that makes a ‘smooth moonshine’ enhanced with natural ingredients.
A new distillery tasting room at Whiskey Bar, 2201 Larimer St., features spirits from Monument’s 3 Hundred Days craft ’shine venture.
Sample the wares at a new tasting room inside Whiskey Bar, 2201 Larimer St. The company makes nine regular blends packaged in quart Mason jars. Flavors include Margarita Moon, Peach Cobbler, barrel-aged Colorado Wheat, plus seasonal specials.
Whiskey Bar’s tasting room is downstairs at 22nd St. Cocktails, flights of shots and mixed ‘shine drinks are all available Thursday-Saturday, 5:00p.m.-10:00p.m., the room’s hours.
Owner Cory Schwab has run the bar for 14 years. He recently finished a refresh of the main bar level including bathroom upgrades. He hopes the new Tasting Room will appeal to folks planning special events.
Most tastes come with a check to pay but Rockies fans should bring their ticket stubs. Schwab occasionally honors those for a free sample. Learn more at 3hundreddays.com.
Made-to-measure men’s suits have arrived in Cherry Creek North (CCN) with the opening of Icon Suit at 220 Steele St. In addition to suits, they also offer custom overcoats, shoes and ties.
“Forget everything you've ever known about shopping—Icon Suit is here to simplify your life and revolutionize your wardrobe.” That’s the company philosophy.
While you’ll get measured and select fabrics in Denver, the suits are handmade in Italy so there’s a bit of turnaround time. A variety of British, Italian and less conventional styles are offered.
The website is iconsuit.com. Call 720-646-7838. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00a.m.-6:00p.m.
Several blocks southwest at 105 Fillmore St. in CCN, Bonobos is also open and featuring a full line of upscale menswear “built around finding the perfect fit.”
This address is a brick and mortar ‘guideshop’ that promises, “No crowds, no waiting, and face-to-face style assistance from a knowledgeable Guide. Your search for a better-fitting wardrobe ends at Bonobos.”
The retailer first launched in 2007 making dress pants for men. Then a variety of shirts, suits and much more were added. Their Jetsetter suit comes in a slim version with a “hint of stretch.”
One curious note: Wal-Mart is in talks to buy this company—a deal that could seem counterintuitive.
The Bonobos number is 720-415-7103 and an appointment seems advisable. Hours are weekdays, 11:00a.m.-7:00p.m., Saturday, 10:00a.m.-7:00p.m., Sunday, noon-5:00p.m.
JALAN FACIAL SPA
The northeast corner of Clarkson Street and East 17th Avenue is now home to Jalan Facial Spa. The salon offers three different types of facials varying in length plus foot and hand reflexology, jade stone massage and acupuncture.
Prices start at $25 for reflexology and $35 for facials then rise. Package deals combining two services are also offered. “Head to toes” is one package. “Fabulous 50” is another geared for individuals of a certain age.
Located at 801 E. 17th Ave., Jalan is open Sunday-Tuesday, 10:00a.m.-7:00p.m. and Wednesday-Saturday, 10:00a.m.-7:00p.m. The number’s 720-476-5593 and jalanspa.com is the web address for online booking.
When Peter Ryan decided to launch his own eatery, he chose an unusual space—the long vacant 2300 block of East 28th Avenue. His “modern yet casual approach to classical French dishes” caught fire at The Plimoth, a modest eatery on the corner named after his hometown of Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Success proved a bit cramped, however, so this chef/owner decided to expand westward into a second storefront. It took two years.
A major expansion at The Plimoth eatery on E. 28th Ave. has greatly increased dining room capacity and added a second kitchen.
“The whole idea was to make the machine run better. More seating. More room for everyone,” Ryan said.
Everything from the acoustics to the A/C works better now. There’s more storage, space to hold private events and specialty dinners, plus a second kitchen.
Ryan expects to provide an enhanced experience for both guests and staffers. He’s added 20 seats in the dining area. The new kitchen will handle pastries and cold prep.
What’s not changing is the focus on working with small farms and unique food purveyors, he added.
Unique indeed. Ryan’s cracklin’ chicken is served with fiddlehead ferns, grilled mackerel is paired with a relish of snap peas and almonds and even desserts incorporate items like bacon nut brittle.
This growth may mean some menu expansion. Ryan might add rotating fresh pastas, an expanded charcuterie program and possibly a bread program.
It’s been an impressive success story—one that Ryan attributes to a lot of help.
“To have even a slight chance of actually making it in this business you need a great team from both front and back of house, a helluva bookkeeper, a reasonable landlord and a whole bag of luck!”
The Plimoth sits at 2335 E. 28th Ave. You can scroll through the current menu at theplimoth.com.
The hours are Monday, 4:00p.m.-8:00p.m., Tuesday-Thursday, 4:00p.m.-9:00p.m., Friday-Saturday, 4:00p.m.-10:00p.m.
Here’s an update on the jaw-dropping renovation that, so far, exceeds my expectations. Many months have been spent renovating this neighborhood hangout at 931 E. 11th Ave.
The bar and rooftop deck are now finished and in use. The generous upper deck lets folks relax above the traffic. The gaming and dining areas are still getting some finishing touches.
DENVER DIVERS & SWIM SCHOOL OF DENVER
Renovations at Denver Divers, 557 Milwaukee St., wrapped up in late May—just in time for the company’s annual Underwater Poker event. New ceilings and improved lighting were the main gains. The heated, saltwater pool now glitters with this new illumination.
Partner Ali Miller said poker night raised $600 for Dive Pirates, a group that introduces disabled individuals to Scuba. If you know someone with a disability who might have an interest, check out divepirates.org.
Renovations at Denver Divers wrapped up in time to host Underwater Poker For Pirates, a fundraiser for Dive Pirates. Photo courtesy Denver Divers.
Denver Divers is also home to a year-round swim school for future divers just learning to swim. The number is 303-399-2877.
Last month, I wrote about Genki Sushi opening at 1422 E. 18th Ave. Already, the name’s been changed. A trademark dispute of some sort perhaps?
The sparkling spot is now dubbed Kenji Sushi. Kenji means health and energy—a sensible choice for a sushi operation that promises to be 100 percent natural. The web address is now kenjisushidenver.com. Hours and menu are unchanged.
Late last summer, I gave readers a sneak peak of the rooftop bar at Halcyon Hotel in CCN. It’s run by Departure Restaurant + Lounge on the ground floor and is called, appropriately, Departure Elevated.
The seasonal space is now open again dishing up panoramic views, globally inspired cocktails and modern Asian fare from Chef Gregory Gourdet. A dim sum cart roams the space as well.
Elevated opens at 4:00p.m. weekdays and 11:00a.m. weekends. The space also rents for private events and has its own website—departureelevated.com.
MY OTHER BAR
New management at My Other Bar, 1120 E. Sixth Ave., adjacent to Safeway, means a few in full bloom.
“We’ve completely revamped our draft beer offerings. We’re trying some new infusions like blueberry vodka. We’re completely revamping the patio,” said manager Meg Wilson.
Wilson has welcomed Alamo Placita neighbors and other groups wanting to schedule periodic meet-ups. They can take advantage of daily happy hour specials. That runs from 4:00p.m.-6:30p.m.
The eatery revolves around its wood-fired pizza oven. In addition to pies, it delivers other dishes like potato nachos.
THE WAG SHOP
Last month, I wrote about the closing of The Wag Shop at 2626 E. Colfax Ave. The building had been sold but evidently, that deal collapsed. Groomer/co-owner Deidre Hered decided to close the space anyway and the building is still for sale. She instead switched to a mobile grooming operation on wheels. Hered expressed eagerness to get back to her roots and rediscover what she loved most—grooming four-legged clients. She can still be reached at 303-282-1894.
Since 1977, the Artisan Center in CCN has been delighting shoppers on the corner of East Third Avenue and Detroit Street. That means they’ve just marked the end of year number 40!
The company hosted an anniversary bash in late April. For four decades, Ellen Seale Durst owned the shop known for eclectic art, crafts, cards and other gems. She sold the business to co-workers Alex Nielsen and Julie Scott effective May 1. Together, Scott and Nielsen have worked a combined 25 years here; this is the first retail ownership for either woman.
“[Julie] is an artist at heart; I’m more the business side but I’ve been buying jewelry for the shop for eight years,” Nielsen explained. The Founder, as Durst is now called, still works two days a week.
Nielsen told LIFE she embraces the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy so the Center will stay firmly on its current course. Artisan Center’s website is artisancenterdenver.com.
Folks driving by York Street and Colfax Avenue in May were shocked to learn that the Abend Gallery building on the southwest corner had been sold. The gallery is relocating to LoDo and will reopen at 1412 Wazee St. in mid-June.
Paper blocked views of the interior on May 15. That was the last day for walk-in traffic; appointment access is available until June 14.
Abend will debut a new show on June 15 at its new space. It is called ‘Palette’ and represents the vision of NY painter and curator Dina Brodsky who has saved her paint palettes over the years and is now giving them second life. The show opens with an artist’s reception starting at 6:00p.m.
Charlie Wooley of St. Charles Town Company bought the building and has announced plans to transform it into multiple retail spaces. His firm also orchestrated the rebirth of the Lowenstein complex in the 2500 block of Colfax Avenue.
A committed fan base seems to be growing at Moxie, the diminutive eatery on South Broadway that opened last year. Moxie is the newest vision from Dylan Moore, former chef/owner of the distinguished Deluxe eatery on the same stretch of Broadway. Moxie’s a gem.
Now late night hunger pangs can be cured at 70 Broadway with tacos Friday or Saturday evenings from 11:00p.m.-3:00a.m. Each $3 taco comes with house salsa, chipotle cream and cotija cheese with cilantro. Two of the five versions can be served vegan.
There’s also a Mexican hot dog with bacon, pico and more, plus a pair of burritos offered late. Call 303-524-9236 for details.
“It is with sadness and regret that we announce that VIDEOTIQUE will be closing on July 1.” That was the message sent to newspapers around town in late May.
The shop at 1205 E. Ninth Ave. has served the Hill since 1985. It stood out as an all-inclusive shop focused on Capitol Hill, as well as the LGBT community. During that time, VIDEOTIQUE amassed a vast library of 8,000 classic, foreign, indie and other films on DVD.
“Our entire library along with fixtures and memorabilia will be on sale starting June 3,” said co-owner Jim Doescher.
After 32 years, he and business partner John Donohoe felt it was just time to do something new when their lease was up. Hours for the liquidation or a final trip to the area’s last video store will be daily, noon-6:00p.m.
Carpet-by-the-yard design shop Flor on East Second Avenue in CCN shut recently.
“This is not goodbye,” a sign on the front door reads. Indeed, Flor is still operating its online store at flor.com but you’ll have to travel to the East or West Coast to locate a Flor retail store.
The Kim family, who operated Gigantic Cleaners at First Avenue between Cook and Madison Streets for years, closed their business rapidly on April 29.
“We have not been able to find a new location due to the short time frame notice of terminating our lease,” Hong Kim explained.
The building his family rented is slated to become a new UC Health building but demolition hasn’t started. Gigantic is still searching for a new home with around 1,500 square feet, plus dedicated parking.
“We are now planning to start a pickup and delivery service temporarily for our customer until we find a new location,” he said.
You can reach him at 720-999-1904 to arrange for cleaning or pick up. Kim hopes his regular customers will call with leads for a new, permanent location.
“We want to thank everyone for their patronage and support all of these years!” Kim added.
Next to Gigantic, Amy’s Nails has reportedly closed for good.
Y AND L SHOES AND REPAIRS
At press time, the shoe shop next to Amy’s was holding a moving sale but it will be shut by the time you read this. The shop will move to 600 S. Holly St. and can still be reached at 303-333-9196.
XPRESSO TO GO
The quaint drive-up coffee spot has moved on. There’s just an outline in the asphalt where the espresso shack stood for over a decade.
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